When laziness strikes …

Hi everyone.

I apologize for not getting a blog post done yesterday – my entire life was derailed by a dentist appointment in the time of corona.

You know you’ve crossed over into the Twilight Zone when you, the dentist, and her assistant are all wearing face masks. The first thing that comes to mind: How are we going to do this? After some discussion, it was decided that I should be the one to remove her mask.

It was a bit confusing, but I think it all worked out in the end.

Anyway, since all I can think about right now is the story I’m writing, and how to get through Act 2 without losing my frigging mind, here are some writing memes to inspire you.

What’s my story about …??? TF if I know!

Hey, buddy — wanna die?

 

 

 

 

When the only fingers that showed up for writing today were your STUPID fingers.

The dreaded “morning after” …

 

 

 

 

Staring into space with both hands on the keyboard definitely qualifies as “thinking about my novel”.

So, I really should get back to work before I do any more damage.

Let me know some of your favorite writing memes in the Comment section!

Thanks for reading.

Location, location, location — Where do you set your stories?

Hi, welcome back.

Today I’d like to talk about the setting for my novel (tentatively titled The Terrible Strange), discuss some of the specific locations, and why they were included.

First of all, it’s set in Philadelphia but it could be any city, I suppose. Philly is just the one I know the best. And I wanted everything to occur in a city because I love the energy and diversity of cities.

Plus, anything can, and does, happen in cities, so why not throw one more thing — like an inter-dimensional monster and the guy who’s hunting it — into the mix?

Then I wanted my protagonist, Jake, to live in an area that used to be rat-and-roach infested, but now, thanks to an expanding Ivy League school, is a highly-sought-after neighborhood: West Philadelphia near the University of Pennsylvania.

However, Jake doesn’t actually go to Penn, he goes to Temple University. For some reason known only to urban planners, I suppose, Temple has not had the same positive influence on its surrounding neighborhood as Penn has. Temple, in fact, is in a shitty, dangerous area. Great for writing about, but not so great for living in. Or going to school in. And that’s were Jake’s part-time job is, too.

I chose neighborhoods adjacent to colleges simply because they practically vibrate with energy — and energy plays a big role in my story. Plus, you see more diversity in these areas than anywhere else in the city, and I love having characters of different cultural and religious backgrounds, and colors, and sexual orientations. College, ideally, is where people discover, and express themselves. It’s kind of glorious, actually.

Also featured is

  • the old Fairmount Water Works located along the Schuylkill River near the  Art Museum (because I needed somewhere for my monster to rest and heal after its arrival on Earth), and
  • Eastern State Penitentiary, a prison built by the Quakers in 1829, now a crumbling ruin — it’s where the final battle for the fate of life on Earth takes place

Oh, and don’t forget all those wonderful underground subway tunnels, allowing God-knows-what to move through the darkness to every part of the city.

Let me know some of your favorite locations — in your town, or around the world — in the Comments section.

Thanks for reading!

Message in a Bottle

Hi, welcome back.

Spent this morning helping my husband set up a recording studio in our living room. He’s recording his first Bad Buddhist Video vlog, based off his original Bad Buddhist Radio podcasts right now. I plan to do something similar, myself, although I don’t have a body of work to pull from like he does. Also hoping to get my own podcast up and running soon.

Anyway, all of this we’re doing lately — the blogs, the vlogs, the podcasts — made me think of how old-fashioned this stuff is (despite the technology). Whether we’re writing a book, or a song; making a blog post, filming a video, or recording a podcast … they’re all basically the same thing. We’re all reaching out,trying to make connections with other people to stave off feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Because believe me, no matter how much we all deny it, humans really do need other humans. Connections — social, physical, and spiritual — are sort of like the grease in the wheels that keep we humans going. Without it, we can carry on for a little while, but it won’t be long before we grind to a halt and possibly burst into flames.

 

 

 

 

Connection is especially important to creative people — it’s the sustenance we crave to keep creating. It’s the reason why there are so many new YouTube videos are being made right now; why so many artists and musicians are sitting in their living rooms or garages singing to us; why talk show hosts are bravely doing their monologues from home — complete with strangely flat jokes — knowing that none of it’s the same without us in the room with them.  They — we — are all trying to connect with one another during this strange time.

It’s sort of like together we’re all creating a 21st century version of Defoe’s A Journal of the Plague Year. Why Defoe’s “historical fiction”,  and not Pepys’ diary, (a contemporary account based on his actual experiences)? Because even though Daniel Defoe was only 5 years old in 1665, the year of the Great Plague in London, his Journal was a combination of his uncle’s personal experience, research and systematic detail. In other words, Defoe tried to paint the bigger picture while still grounding the event in the personal.

Which is kind of what we’re all doing, on a subconscious level.

So here’s my message in a bottle.

Someday it will be found and added to the 2020 edition of the Journal, making some OCD historian very happy as she/he/they pastes my little scrap of humanity in it’s proper place on the Covid19 timeline.

 

Nine books that messed with my head

Hi.

Welcome back.

This week I want to talk about some of my favorite horror books.

You know, those books that do things to your head or your heart or your soul and make you want to read them over and over again?

Yeah, those.

Incidentally, if you like horror, there shouldn’t be any surprises here. These are the classics everyone should be cutting their teeth on. So to speak. So here, in no particular order are my choices:

  • Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury. 1962. This is a dark fantasy about two 13-year-old best friends, Jim Nightshade and Will Halloway, and the nightmarish travelling carnival that arrives in their small town a week before Halloween.

  • Hell House, by Richard Matheson. 1971. Not sure if this was the first real haunted house novel, but it was certainly the scariest. A physicist and two mediums — one mental and one physical — are offered $100,000 each to spend the night in a haunted mansion so terrifying that it’s been abandoned and sealed since the last psychic expedition in 1949.  But don’t take my word for it.  “Hell House is the scariest haunted house novel ever written. It looms over the rest the way the mountains loom over the foothills.” — Stephen King 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • The Exorcist, by William Peter Blatty.  1971. Based on the true story of a child’s exorcism in St. Louis in 1949, it has been called the most controversial novel ever written.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • The Shining, by Stephen King. 1977. A disgraced prep school teacher accepts the job of seasonal caretaker at a haunted resort in Colorado with a long history of murder and debauchery.  Oh, and he brings his wife and young son along for the ride. All the characters are top-notch here with one of my favs being the Overlook’s chef, Dick Hallorann.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • ‘Salem’s Lot, by Stephen King. 1975. A writer returns to the small Maine town where he grew up and discovers the residents are gradually turning into vampires. With a bit of Bram Stoker’s Dracula mixed in there for flavor, this book took vampires out of Transylvania and plopped them right in the middle of rural America. And made a convincing argument for why it could really happen, too.

  • Night Shift, by Stephen King. 1978. King’s first short story collection.  There are some heart-racing gems in here. Favs — “The Graveyard Shift,” “The Mangler,” and “I am the Doorway.” Shudder.

 

 

 

 

  • The Complete Stories of Edgar Allan Poe, by Edgar Allan Poe. My first introduction to horror. Don’t be afraid you won’t like it because it’s written in a kind of old-fashioned style — it’s Poe, goddammit! He’s the original tortured artist.  Just suck it up and read them. Favs — “The Black Cat,” “The Cask of Amontillado,” The Pit and the Pendulum,” “The Tell-Tale Heart.”

  • The Ruins, by Scott Smith. 2006. A horror thriller set in the Yucatan Peninsula, a group of young American, German, and Greek college students/tourists head into the Mexican jungle searching for a missing girl. What they find is literally the stuff of nightmares. This one had me sweating.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Books of Blood, by Clive Barker. 1984-1985.  Six volumes of dark, bloody horror stories. Favs include “The Book of Blood,” “The Midnight Meat Train,” “The Yattering and Jack,” “In the Hills, the Cities,” “Son of Celluloid,” and “Rawhead Rex.”

There are SO many more, but this post has to end somewhere. There is a butt-ton of books I haven’t listed here, and others I know are out there waiting for me to discover them.  Ugh. Why can’t we live forever?

Anyway, thanks for reading and let me know some of your favorites in the Comments section.

Thanks. See you later!

 

 

 

Binge-watching Netflix — It’s strictly research, I swear.

Well, here we are living out all our old “if I only didn’t have to work” fantasies.  (Except maybe for the one where you get naked and belly flop into a pool of lime jello.)

 

 

 

So, in between taking naps and trying not to eat everything in the house, my husband and I have been binge-watching TV shows on Netflix. But unlike the rest of America we are doing it for a higher purpose — we’re both writers so we’re calling it “research”. 

Yeah, I said what I said.

Right now we’re researching the hell out of “Supernatural” — already on Season 3. Woo-hoo! Great cast, great writing, and according to Dean in Season 2, Episode 18 — great craft services.

 

 

 

Also, sadly, we’re finishing up “The Magicians” later tonight. LOVE this show, especially Quentin, Eliot, and Margo the Destroyer. Maybe we can get a GoFundMe site started to finance another season (or 10) just to frigging bring back Quentin (and, by extension, one of the hottest ships on TV — Queliot!). C’mon, you guys — it’s a magical world. Anything can happen!

And, last but not least — “Lucifer.” He is my favorite drama queen. My husband and I are both loving Lucy’s character arc, but it’s hard waiting for the most recent season to make it onto Netflix. Ugh. I want it nooooooowwwww!

So, how dare we call what appears to be a hedonistic waste of time “research”? Hey, when you write everything is research.

Three week trips to exotic places just to get “local flavor” for your next book  ? Research.

 

 

 

 

Eavesdropping on people in public places (ah, the good old days) simply to hear authentic idiot conversations? Research.

eavesdropping

Watching 72 hours of shoe fetish porn just to give one of your characters a “secret obsession”? Research.

Let me know what you’re binge-watching in the Comments.

Thanks for reading!